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His background is wrapped in mystery. The Knights of the Cross assume that he's about two thousand years old, but this is uncertain, as he takes great pains to destroy all of the church's documentation of him every few centuries or so. Based on the supposed time frame, and a comment he makes about chariots, one can assume that he grew up somewhere in Ancient Rome. He is the oldest of the Denarians, and is a fully cooperative host to the fallen angel Anduriel.
His wife is Polonius Lartessa, with whom he allegely caused the Plague, and his daughter is Deirdre. He claims to have known and respected Margaret LeFay. Harry Dresden nicknames him Nick, as in "Old Nick", another name for Satan.
He is of average height and build, with strong and handsome features, and appears to be middle aged. He has dark eyes and short dark hair with hints of silver. He speaks with a "faintly British" accent, and has a "good voice, mellow, and surprisingly deep." He tends to dress in expensive and elegant clothing, and always wears a noose around his neck. He seems to project a calm and vaguely amused demeanor most of the time. He has a wide, vicious smile that Harry once compares to a crocodile's.
He is intelligent, a meticulous planner, patient, and incredibly careful. He plays a long-game, and even when his plans blow up he has usually not lost much, and has gained at least something. He cares more for ideals than material gain, and is very willing to sacrifice others to achieve his goals. He strives to create chaos in the world, and seems to have a particular predilection for plague curses.
He's superficially charming, grandiose, manipulative, and incapable of love, empathy, or remorse; generally the caricature of a typical psychopath. When Harry calls him a psychopath, however, Nicodemus corrects him, saying that "sociopath" is a more appropriate term.
Per Harry, Nicodemus plays Armageddon lotto: he makes big plans, but plots to make incremental profits along the way.
He hosts the Fallen Angel Anduriel in his head, which prevents aging and gives him access to extended knowledge. He does not use the Denarian "battle form" nor does he demonstrate any strong magical ability, but he can use his shadow (which Anduriel rides) to incapacitate his victims, and fly. He is stronger and faster than a normal human. Anduriel can listen or observe through any living creature's shadow, and passes the information to Nicodemus if he sees fit. It's limited by Anduriel's attention--it has to focus to get details, otherwise it's background noise. A few places are exempt from Anduriel.
According to the Knights he usually has three Denarian coins around him at any time, rarely more than five or six at once. In Death Masks, he worked with Ursiel (formerly Rasmussen's), whose coin was retrieved by the Knights upon his defeat, Saluriel (formerly Quintus Cassius'), who gave up his coin to the Knights, and the unknown coin that his daughter and second-in-command, Deirdre, has. He also had the coin of Lasciel, which he gave to Harry and was also in church possession, until it was shown to be in Hannah Ascher's hands. He did not, according to Cassius,, have any others, and if he had amass any coins since, they were undoubtedly also retrieved during the aquarium scene.(ref?)
Around his neck, he carries a noose, allegedly the one that Judas Iscariot used to hang himself. This grants him near invulnerability, except for being strangled by the noose itself, which is, in essence, his only weakness. His sword-fighting experience has been honed over a number of centuries, and he would be equal to the likes of Shiro Yoshimo, but even competent swordsmen like Michael Carpenter wouldn't take him on in a one-on-one sword fight and expect to win.(ref?) Despite his calculating nature, he can occasionally let grudges get in the way. He gave Harry the chance to get the Archive back when offered the chance to defile the blade of Shiro, the one rival he truly despised.(ref?) He and Tessa are considered generally rivals, though they are husband and wife.
In the series Edit
- Main article: Death Masks
In Death Masks, he's in Chicago looking for the Shroud of Turin, which he is planning on using to fuel a large plague curse. He kidnaps Harry, and tries to convince him to take up a coin. When Harry refuses, Nicodemus plans on using him as a sacrifice to fuel the spell, but Harry is saved by Shiro. After being defeated by Sanya, Michael, Harry, and Marcone, and losing the Shroud, Nicodemus tosses a coin in front of Michael's son, Little Harry. Harry Dresden picks it up just in time to prevent the boy to do the same.
- Main article: Small Favor
In Small Favor, Nicodemus captures the Baron Johnny Marcone, violating the Accords, with the intention that Mab will force Harry to get involved in the matter. Harry sets up a meeting at the Shedd Aquarium, with the Archive as an intermediary. It's a trap, so that Nicodemus can kidnap her and force her to take a coin. He is successful. Harry renegotiates with Nicodemus: the Archive, in exchange for the eleven coins they acquired at the aquarium, and Fidelacchius. Nicodemus is enticed by the prospect of coming away with everything, and agrees.
They set up another meeting, which takes place on the island of Demonreach. Nicodemus doesn't follow through on his end of the deal - naturally - and orders the rest of the Denarians to attack. Harry shoots fireball rounds into the air, which has the advantage of signaling Hendricks and Gard's helicopter, and scaring the Denarians so that they'll scatter. They get Marcone and the Archive onto the helicopter, followed by Sanya. By the time Michael's going up, the Denarians have regrouped. The helicopter is forced to leave without Harry on it. Harry eventually finds his way to the boat that they came in on. Nicodemus is already waiting for him. Harry discovers that the bag that held the eleven coins was taken earlier by Thorned Namshiel. Nicodemus claims that Tessa and Rosanna betrayed him, and implies that at least one of them are working for the Black Council. He asks Lasciel's shadow to incapacitate Harry, not knowing that the shadow isn't in Harry's brain anymore, and tries to take Fidelacchius from him. When he gets close enough, Harry grabs Nicodemus's noose and attempts to strangle him with it. Deirdre interrupts him as he's doing this, and he tosses Nicodemus overboard, escaping on the boat.
Nicodemus survived the ordeal in Small Favor, although his voice has been damaged slightly, and is now one of the main characters in Skin Game.
- Main article: Skin Game
In Skin Game, Mab reveals that she owes Nicodemus a favor after he performed an unspecified service for her years earlier, and Dresden is assigned to help him with a project in order to repay the debt. Dresden agrees, on the condition that he gets to choose somebody to help him, and appoints Karrin.
Nicodemus reveals that he plans to break into Hades' Vault in order to steal the Holy Grail, and has assembled a team of experts to help him get in and out. Deirdre comments that Nicodemus knows Dresden will betray him, but that her father always comes out on top. Kringle also tells Dresden that Anduriel can see into any shadow it wants with only a few exceptions (the Carpenter house, Demonreach, or in Mab's presence) and will tell Nicodemus anything he says or does during the heist.
During the planning, Nicodemus realizes that Waldo Butters is spying on them and orders him killed. After a chase through Chicago, a tense standoff ensues outside the Carpenter house. Karrin Murphy stands against Nicodemus with Fidelacchius, and after ordering the Genoskwa to kill Dresden he offers to surrender, removing the Noose and relinquishing his Coin. Enraged, Karrin attacks, only to cause the Sword to fail because she misused it; Nicodemus then destroys the Sword and brutally attacks Karrin, incapacitating her. Michael comes out and Nicodemus offers to let them live if he walks out of the gate of his own free will. Michael agrees, and Uriel lends him his Grace to be able to fight; instead of facing a cripple as expected, Nicodemus finds himself against Michael at full strength, holding Amoracchius in his hands. He backs off, and Dresden appoints Michael as his assistant in the heist. Nicodemus reluctantly agrees.
After breaking into the vault and going through the Gate of Fire and Gate of Ice, Nicodemus murders Deirdre to get through the Gate of Blood, horrifying Dresden and Michael Carpenter.
Entering the vault, Dresden sees a number of items relating to the Crucifixion of Christ: a crown of thorns, a wooden placard with fading paint, an ancient burial shroud, the Holy Grail, and a leaf-shaped knife with a wooden handle. Guessing that Nicodemus truly wanted the knife, Dresden puts the Grail in the center of the altar and puts the rest of the relics in his bag.
When Nicodemus enters, Dresden insults him over the murder of his daughter, deliberately goading him in an attempt to make him feel the pain of losing her, before throwing him the Grail. Nicodemus starts to cry before ordering his allies to kill Dresden, revealing that he has Ursiel and Lasciel in reserve. Dresden reveals that he had already hired Goodman Grey to assist him in the fight, and Grey attacks the Genoskwa. Michael battles Nicodemus with all his strength, and then appeals to him to stop. For the first time, Nicodemus appears to listen while Michael talks about the pain of losing a child and offers him hope, and for a moment Dresden thinks that it will work. Ultimately, the Fallen are too strong, and Nicodemus rejects Michael's help. The two fight and Michael almost wins. Nicodemus saves himself by using the Grail as a shield; unable to destroy it, Michael draws back and Nicodemus attacks his leg, then escapes.
After Dresden and Michael escape the vault, Dresden prepares to close the way and seal Nicodemus inside, but Nicodemus gets out at the last minute. Dresden's insults made him realize that Dresden is a father too. Nick quickly figures out the identity and location of Maggie and plans to kill her in retribution. He almost succeeds when Dresden throws the hilt of Fidelacchius at Charity Carpenter; she fumbles it, but it's caught by Butters, whose faith causes it to grow a glowingly humming virtual blade: a lightsaber. Mouse joins the fight, and Nicodemus flees in terror. His squires stand in disbelief, and then surrender to Butters.
Talking to Mab at the end, Dresden realizes that she wanted revenge for Nicodemus breaking the Unseelie Accords. Dresden deduces that Nick has been set up by Mab, Marcone, and Hades, and that the plan has succeeded: Nicodemus has the Holy Grail, but not the other artifacts he wanted. To get it, though, he's been forced to kill his daughter, the only trusted lieutenant he had. He's also lost his squires and his reputation (since he betrayed his conspirators in the vault). For crossing Mab and Marcone, Nicodemus has lost almost everything.
Nicodemus could possibly be a reference to Saint Nicodemus from the Bible, who helped wrap Jesus in the Shroud of Turin. It's unknown whether the two are the same person, or if it's just a coincidence.
Archleone means something similar to 'roaring lion', as described in: "the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." Nicodemus enjoyed this description when Dresden mentioned it.